Heart of the South West LEP signs up to the UN’s Race to Zero campaign as part of ambitious clean growth plans

The Heart of the South West LEP is aiming to be a pioneer with its ambitious commitments to clean growth, which includes a pledge to help place the Heart of the South West area on a resilient pathway to net zero by the 2040s or sooner.

The LEP joins an alliance of businesses, education institutions, cities, regions and investors in committing to the United Nations’ Race to Zero global campaign, which aims to achieve net zero carbon by 2050 at the latest. It hopes that by making this pledge, other organisations in the area will also sign up to it.

The pledge forms part of the plans set out in the LEP’s newly released ‘Blueprint for Clean Growth’. The LEP wants to grow the area’s economy in a clean and sustainable way by delivering inclusive economic prosperity whilst protecting the environment, lowering emissions and enhancing natural capital. The blueprint sets out how it will do this, by focusing on the area’s blue and green economy, creating the necessary conditions to enhance the economic connections with the marine and land-based environments.

The blueprint focuses on six themes:

  • Leadership
  • Low carbon energy
  • Green businesses
  • Sustainable communities
  • Decarbonised transport
  • Natural capital

Each of these themes has a clear objective and set of priorities that the LEP will focus on over the next two years. Rather than being a standalone strategy, it brings together and builds on the LEP’s existing strategies, including the Local Industrial Strategy and Build Back Better plan, to drive sustainable economic growth.

Karl Tucker, chair of Heart of the SW LEP, says: “We are delighted to pledge our commitment to the Race to Zero campaign, joining hundreds of countries, cities, businesses and organisations. It’s important that we show leadership in this area and encourage others to join us.

“To recover from the pandemic and truly build back better, we need to focus on clean and inclusive growth to transform our economy and create long-term prosperity for everyone in all parts of our communities.

“Our Blueprint for Clean Growth will allow us to capitalise on the dynamic heart of our area’s economy, delivering a low carbon energy powerhouse, and driving innovation in our key sectors such as aerospace, maritime, agriculture and tourism. We will embed our clean growth commitment in all our activities and actions, stimulating new ideas that address environmental challenges and deliver nature-based solutions, and ensuring people and businesses have the right support and skills to deliver and benefit from clean growth.”

Key highlights in the blueprint:

  • To become pioneers in delivering clean growth

The blueprint calls on more partners to join the LEP in recognising the global climate emergency and commit to the UN’s Race to Zero pledge. It commits to putting inclusive climate action at the centre of decision making for the area, which covers Devon, Somerset, Plymouth and Torbay.

  • To be a green energy powerhouse and first net exporter of clean energy.

Including building on the legacy of Hinkley Point C in Somerset. The LEP aims to continue to stimulate growth of the nuclear sector and accelerate innovation in future advanced nuclear technologies, such as fusion. The area is also home to a world-leading maritime sector, which provides opportunities for innovation in offshore renewables. The blueprint also sets out how it will work with National Grid and Western Power Distribution to address grid capacity constraints. The LEP will also find ways to stimulate an increase in other low carbon energy and heat technologies.

  • To unlock opportunities for clean growth for local businesses.

The LEP will support local businesses to enable them to play their part, including advice and support to SMEs to implement energy efficiency measures. It will establish a clean growth skills and supply chain, initially focused on the energy and construction sectors in response to the drive to retrofit existing buildings.

The blueprint also sets out support for key sectors in the area, including food and farming, and tourism.

  • To be a test bed for the development of zero carbon housing and sustainable communities.

The blueprint identifies that one-third of the area’s carbon emissions come from the domestic sector – and there are approximately 100,000 new homes planned over the next 10 years. It aims to commit to the new Future Home Standard, available from 2023, as well as working with social landlords to develop a retrofit programme, leveraging funding from the new Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund.

  • To realise a greener transport future.

Transport accounts for almost half of emissions in the Heart of the SW area. The LEP will continue to work with Peninsula Transport to ensure a clean strategic transport strategy is in place, which includes electrifying the rail network including the Great Western mainline. Delivery of a reliable electric vehicle charging network will be enabled, and a smart aviation cluster will be established. The use of electric and hybrid aircraft on regional routes is due to be piloted at Exeter and Newquay Airports through the Project 2ZERO consortium plans as part of the Government’s Future Flight Challenge.

The LEP also aims to pioneer clean maritime by developing innovative pilot demonstrators that build a broad ecosystem, incorporating electrification and hydrogen and exploiting regional assets such as offshore energy.

  • To be the national lead in delivering nature-based solutions.

Natural capital is the sum of ecosystems, species, freshwater, land soils, minerals and the sea. The blueprint recognises the importance of developing nature-based solutions to provide resilience and support a positive transition to net zero. The LEP has launched a £1m Natural Capital Demonstrator Fund to invest in natural capital projects.

To deliver the ambitions in the blueprint, the LEP will look for opportunities to collaborate with the private sector, investors and other organisations that share common goals, such as local authorities and universities.

Read the full blueprint here: https://heartofswlep.co.uk/growing-our-economy/our-blueprint-for-clean-growth/